Saudi Arabia Biggest Buyer of UK Arms in West Asia
By Staff, Agencies
A new report by the British government indicated that the United Kingdom is the second-largest arms exporter over the past decade and the biggest buyer of these weapons is West Asia, especially Saudi Arabia.
The UK has been the world’s second-biggest arms exporter after the US for the past decade, according to government figures, the Independent reported.
Last year, UK companies signed £11bn worth of contracts for military equipment and services, down from £14bn in 2018; making it the second-highest year for UK arms sales since 1983.
It meant the UK had a 16 percent share of the global arms trade in 2019.
The Campaign Against the Arms Trade [CAAT] accused the British government of “arming and supporting repression around the world.”
However, the UK government claimed its arms deals to generate thousands of high-skilled jobs and help keep the country safe.
Since 2010, the UK government has signed £86bn worth of contracts, with 60 percent of those going to the Middle East, according to data from UK Defense and Exports. Saudi Arabia was the largest buyer by far.
Aerospace accounted for 88 percent of sales and contracts, including radars and missiles as well as aircraft.
The major buyers of UK-aerospace equipment include Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Oman, the USA, and Qatar.
The UK had a 16 percent share in the global arms trade in 2019, compared to the estimated US share of 47 percent and Russia and France, which have an 11 and 10 percent share respectively.
Andrew Smith, a spokesperson for CAAT said "Arms dealers will be celebrating, but these figures should be a source of great shame."
"Boris Johnson and his colleagues are always talking about 'Global Britain' and the importance of human rights and democracy, but they are arming and supporting repression around the world,” he said.
“These sales are not just numbers on a spreadsheet: for people around the world they could be a matter of life and death."
He added, "UK-made weapons have played a devastating role in the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen, helping to create the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.”
"Wherever there is conflict there will always be arms companies trying to profit from it. This profiteering does not just enable war, it actively fuels it.”
He concluded that the sales being approved today could be used in atrocities and abuses for many years to come.